Posted on 24 April 2020
There are some key roles within Hyde where it is very much ‘business as usual’. Those working in Property Maintenance and our tenancy teams are still entering residents’ homes for essential repairs or if there is an emergency.
Hyde’s Repairs Specialist, Steve and Gas Engineer, Cameron tell us what it is like working in customers’ homes in these challenging times:
Steve is based at Hyde’s Havant office. He covers a huge patch including the South Coast of England, through Chichester, all the way up to Winchester. His role includes carrying out responsive repairs such as plumbing, glazing and locks (he is a qualified locksmith). However, Steve’s job has now changed during this period of lockdown as he is only carrying out essential repairs – mainly emergency leaks, and blocked toilets and drains.
Steve tells us more about what his day-to-day job looks like now:
“People ask me if I am nervous entering a property now – if I am worried about catching the coronavirus or if residents are going to be nervous about letting me into their home. Most of our residents are lovely – they know that we are doing everything we can to improve their lives and help them. I love being able to see how I have taken that element of stress away from somebody when I complete a job.
“I don’t get nervous going into a property as I know that Hyde takes as many precautions as possible to keep colleagues safe. When taking a call, our schedulers always ask if anybody in the household is isolating. If they are, then we only attend to emergency repairs where I will be wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Even if I have been told that nobody is self-isolating in the household, I make sure I check again when I call ahead, and again when I knock on the door. I always wear a mask and gloves to knock on the door (or will already be wearing PPE if it’s an emergency job and I know that somebody in the household is isolating). However, if when I enter the property I can see a member of the household is displaying symptoms, I return to my van to put on full PPE- including shoe shields and white suit. I also surround the working area in polythene sheeting. Anybody displaying symptoms or shielding has to be in a separate room to where the work is being carried out. I always make a point of reassuring anybody that is nervous - particularly elderly and vulnerable customers - that their safety is our priority.
“When I enter the property, I assess whether the work actually is essential or an emergency. If it isn’t, I politely tell the resident that a sticky window is not essential or emergency work and then leave the property.
“Now, when I finish the job, residents aren’t required to review paperwork or sign anything - which helps to maintain social distancing. All of this is carried out via a follow up call.
“The hardest part of my job now is completing some of the more intricate work wearing gloves. Jobs also take a lot longer – for example, after a job when I return to my van, I have to make sure that everything is clean. After I have changed out of my PPE, which then has to be bagged up and carefully disposed of, I then wipe down everything including the van doors and steering wheel. I am currently carrying out between seven and ten jobs a day – so this really can be time consuming. But, on a positive note, my tools have never been so clean!
“Another new challenge is that some materials are currently difficult to obtain. However, our residents have been very appreciative and really understanding in these situations.
“I can honestly say that Hyde has made me feel safe and supported during this time -managers are always asking me if I have everything I need, particularly in terms of PPE. I am just grateful that I am doing a job where I am able to help people.”
Gas engineer, Cameron has seen his day-to-day work change too. His job involves carrying out gas safety inspections, fixing boiler breakdowns and completing repairs – all essential and emergency work, which has to continue throughout this period of lockdown.
Cameron is also based at Hyde’s Havant office and mainly covers the Chichester, Emsworth and Portsmouth areas. Cameron said:
“I am doing between six and nine jobs a day at the moment, with a couple of emergency jobs as well, so I am still really busy. I am carrying out gas safety inspections as normal, but repair work now has to be prioritised into urgent and non-urgent jobs. Getting spare parts and van stock has been a difficult as our usual supplier is shut, and we are now having to find new suppliers who can provide the items we need.
“I'm not nervous going into residents’ homes - I obviously always knock on the door first and check to make sure it's safe to carry out work, before entering the property. I always wear gloves and a face mask when going inside customers’ homes and luckily haven’t had to dash back to my van to change into full PPE yet!
“Most residents are quite surprised that we are still working and carrying out gas safety inspections. When the lockdown first started, it was 50/50 whether residents would let you in or not. However, now everyone seems happy to welcome you in to get on with your work – especially when they can see that we are not taking any risks in terms of resident safety.”